Chapter 26, Coming Together
My memory is hazy following the reveal of my father: Chester Abbott: Ava’s father. We are half-sisters…
Everyone parted ways almost immediately after the reveal of this information, with Ava upset, though rightfully. Everything she thought she knew, changed in an instant. I am sure she has many questions. Todd took her home, having offered to return to be with me however I needed, but I politely declined. I need to sort through the plethora of information gathered over the past week, and the shock of the truth. It amazes me how Carter’s possible suicide note was put so far back in the closet with the onset of finding my birth certificate. Stella insisted on staying at a motel on the outskirts of town for the night to give me privacy. She is ever so thoughtful.
I am sitting under the pergola, cocooned within the fragrant garden. The sun is up. The bench is hard wood. I lean my hands on the edge of the seat, leaning forward. The only thing I seem to be able to focus on is my breath.
I need oxygen. So many facts swim within my mind. I have lost all hope of lassoing a single one of them to inspect upon further. The effort is immense.
Pulling my knees under my chin, feet upon seat, I rock to my right. Laying down in the fetal position, I close my eyes and take another deep breath.
Suddenly, there is the image of Jesus shining gloriously. Arms open, patiently waiting; for me? His light emanates from him, snuffing out all darkness. Come to me, for I wait. A whisper to my soul; not heard, but felt.
I run to him. I run toward the loving arms of Christ. Boy, do I need the strength of those arms right now.
When I reach him, he vanishes…Sort of. I am basked in light, brighter than before. I feel peace: solid, all-consuming peace. My heart swells, overcome by love.
‘Where did you go? Why can’t I see you anymore?’
I am within.
‘Me? You are within me?’
‘But, I wanted to be in your arms; I wanted to feel your arms around me, feel your strength.’
You have my love. You have peace, do you not?
Then stop thinking. Be.
‘What do you mean be?’
Become peace. Become love.
I open my eyes, the moment passed.
The sun vanished, having slipped behind the dense black of trees. I am only just now aware of Time. Living in the present is difficult. In this moment the difficulty isn’t in staying in the present, the difficulty is when being in the present removes you from the world around you, and reentry into the world is disorienting. Time has moved in this world, though not the world I was just in.
Invigorated and inspired, I peeled myself off the hard bench, standing to stretch the stiffness from my muscles. The cathartic experience releasing the blood flow, as I focus on the oxygen being pushed through my body, makes me giddy.
“So…what made you think to speak to Bruce Jackson?”
I called Todd about twenty minutes ago, to come pick me up and take me to Bruce Jackson’s office a few towns over, yet to share why. He was in his typical garb: jeans and a button up shirt. And I was in my usual, as well: jeans and a t-shirt, with hair in a ponytail.
“After the bomb of Ava and I being half-sisters sunk in – well, as much as it can right now – I went back to the lavender room. Among all of the legal documents, and such, I came across a journal. At first, I thought it was my grandmothers, but soon realized it was penned by Rosemarie.”
“Ok…” Todd said, clearly not sure where this line of thought was going.
“Bear with me. Rosemarie began her journal following walking in on her father, Carter, attempting to commit suicide. Upon finding the note, she rushed around looking for him. She walked in just as he kicked the chair out from under his feet. She was responsible for cutting him down, effectively saving his life.”
“It gets better: she was pregnant with me when she found her father.”
“I still don’t see how this has anything to do with Bruce.”
“After reading the events in Rosemarie’s journal, I remembered what Stella had said of Lillian’s novels: that the suicide note within one was Carter’s suicide note verbatim. She had joked of the possibility that many realities of their lives were fictionalized for the use of her novels. So, I read them for added context.”
“All of them?”
“All of them.”
“So, what do you think you learned?”
“First, due to Carter’s post-traumatic stress disorder from the war, the pressure of the new book store, and Rosemarie being pregnant and alone, Carter lost his ability to deal. It was just too much for him. After Rosemarie walked in on his attempted suicide, Lillian decided to send him to a center for Vets. This was for the benefit of all. The story of him going overseas was Carter’s idea, for the purpose of saving Lillian’s reputation with the new bookstore. Now, from the journal, Rosemarie was pretty messed up over the whole thing, resulting in Lillian sending her to a hospital for the remaining term of her pregnancy. I think this was more to ensure that I would be born healthy, and to keep Rosemarie from doing anything drastic. However, Rosemarie was enraged over this. After my birth, they kept her in a psych ward because she began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. At some point, Lillian couldn’t afford her care anymore and decided to relocate her back home, setting her up in the now abandoned cabin. Lillian, during this time, had been in contact with Chet about the whole thing. He offered to help out, visiting the cabin to see me and monitor Rosemarie. Eventually, Rosemarie wasn’t happy being – what she called – a prisoner. And to a point, I suppose this was true. Rosemarie came up with a plan. One she thought was brilliant: She would wear a disguise as an effort to get out into the world.”
“Red hair and purple glasses…”
“Yep! I guess Lillian was surprised, though felt keeping the peace was better than rocking the already tipping boat. Apparently this worked in helping to rehab Rosemarie. She got some time to work out her issues, while staying the nights she worked at the bookstore in the apartment above.”
“What made Chet bail out?”
“He was pseudo-forced to marry someone his father approved, and seeing as how no one knew he was Rosemarie’s baby’s father, they struck a deal. He would help financially through the buying of antique books to supplement the cost of a child. Rosemarie finally made it back to being her own person and we ‘moved’ back to town after the ‘intern’ left.”
“Exactly how does all of this fit in with Bruce Jackson?”
“In Rosemarie’s journal, she believed she was being harassed and stalked by my uncle, Oliver. She became terrified he was going to tell all their secrets she had tried so desperately to keep.”
“Didn’t we already determine he was a loose cannon? And that he was trying to out your mom’s secret?”
“Yes – BUT, what we didn’t know was that my mom accidentally killed Oliver. At least, she held herself responsible for his death. Apparently, Grandma came up with the idea to make it look as if his old life had followed him here.”
“I still don’t understand. Why visit Bruce Jackson?”
“The picture painted in Lillian’s novels revealed some interesting notions. Something doesn’t quite add up – call it a hunch, or a woman’s intuition.”
“What do you think you will find by going to him?”
“Please bear with me. If what I have gleaned from the fiction penned by my grandmother, I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Let’s see if I’m right first…”
We finally arrived at the office of Bruce Jackson. Wasting no time, we were at the receptionist’s desk in seconds. After five minutes of waiting in the waiting room, comprised of four seats and a typical office desk one might expect to find in a small business, we were escorted to Bruce’s office.
Upon entering, I saw the man sitting behind the desk. A smile began to curve at the corner of my mouth – I was right.
“Hello, Uncle Oliver.”